Bored? Books You MUST (at least try) to Read This Summer 📚 – Pars Una

There is no excuse for boredom. If you don’t have any external stimuli, the bounds of imagination ought to be enough to sustain you for an ample amount of time. But leaning on our imagination all summer long may be a bit of stretch, even for the most brilliant among us. For that reason, I’ve decided to compose a reading list comprising of books from my own carefully curated selection. The books in this post have all been read and adored by yours truly, and I’ll do you the favor of adding recommended age group, average length, optimal edition, components (what do these books include that make them so interesting?), destination (where does this book take you?) and little description to top it all off. As you can probably tell, my theme this summer is ‘THE home adventure’ (whatever that means). These books are all scrupulously selected due to their excellent setting and remarkable ability to transport the reader to that excellent setting. Hopefully, while reading these books, you can feel as though you’ve traveled the world this summer!

If you’ve read most of these books already, don’t worry. There are more posts like this coming!

*Please note that I list books in no particular order. The first few are not necessarily my favorite, or anything.

Happy Day and Happy, Happy Reading!

Sara

1379212I. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Rec. Age group/reading level: 7th grade and up

Length: Medium

Rec. Edition: Doesn’t matter

Components: Adventure, historical fiction, suspense (not too much, though), valiant heroes

Destination: Revolution-era France

Compendious, probably insufficient description: A Robin Hood of sorts, the Scarlet Pimpernel is a valiant gentleman who ambitiously strives to save innocent individuals from the guillotine during the French Revolution. The book follows him as he attempts to carry out his dauntless deeds all the while thwarting the wily French general/agent/I-don’t-remember-what-exactly-he-is, Chauvelin. The scenery isn’t depicted in the most vivid manner, but I still think this book can whisk you away.

II. Al Capone Does My Shirts and the Al Capone at Alcatraz series by Gennifer Choldenko 89716

Rec Age Group/Reading Level: 6th grade and up

Length: Short/medium – audio book is off the charts

Rec. Edition: Doesn’t matter

Components: historical fiction, adventure, mystery, humor

Destination: Alcatraz Island in the 1930’s

Compendious, probably insufficient description: Matthew Flannagan aka Moose, has just moved to Alctraz with his family. The series follows him through his life on the island and his run-ins with extremely shady business involving numerous convicts including Al Capone himself.This is one of those books where every time you put it down you’re a little dazed…I recommend the audio book too, maybe even more than the physical copy – the narrator reads the story splendidly. I listening to the audio book first and loved it more than the actual paper and ink version. Take this along if you’re planning a road trip!

III. Crunch by Leslie Connor 6794978

Rec Age Group/Reading Level: 6th grade and up

Length: Medium, listen to the audio version!

Rec. Edition: Doesn’t matter

Components: realistic fiction, historical fiction (kind of), mystery, adventure

Destination: Peaceful farm in what I think is New England

Compendious, probably insufficient description: Crunch is a story of a group of siblings who have to keep house while their parents are away for a little road trip. The main character and his brother are responsible for the family’s little bike shop, and when the gas pumps suddenly begin to run dry, business picks up at an incredible rate. The book revolves around how the siblings manage to maintain their farm and their unbelievably bustling bike shop. And then things start to go missing from their bike shop – expensive parts and the like – and without their parents around, it’s their responsibility to expose the burglar.

Crunch is one of my most, most, most, most favorite books. Like the Al Capone series above, I really loved the audio version and didn’t enjoy the print version as much. It’s remarkable how much a good narrator can add to your experience with a story! My family found the story a little slow, but I enjoyed its relaxed pace and equally relaxing scenery. The story is set on a farm in New England, I think, and it’s beautiful. I know my description made it sound as though the story revolves around fixing bikes, but it’s kind of like a movie where you watch the kids as they deal with the problems that arise from the absence of adults and the sudden responsibility that comes along with that absence. It’s one of those books that I’d call an ‘every-day-life-book’ for lack of better words. So if you want to read (or better yet, hear) a relaxing story, Crunch is for you.

IV. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway 11617647

Rec. Age group/reading level: 8th grade and up (due to depth of meaning, not difficulty)

Length: Very short

Rec. Edition: Scribner edition, though it doesn’t really matter too much

Components: contemplative, exemplary, realistic fiction

Destination: A boat at sea

Compendious, probably insufficient description: This novel (it’s really more of a novella) is extremely hard to describe. In about 120 pages, Hemingway crafts a message of what I felt was fortitude. The story centers around a poor, elderly fisherman and his struggle in capturing a giant marlin out at sea. The novella is extremely easy to read and cleanly displays Hemingway’s classic, succinct sentences. Unlike many books, the pith of this story is not only in the words in their formation as sentences and paragraphs and chapters. It’s essential to examine it as a whole as well, and it’s in the examination, even if it is at the chapter level, that the real difficulty of this book lies. And even the meaning isn’t too hard to grasp, but it’s very expansive. I read this for a class and while discussing it with my teacher, realized that it would take some time to unpack all of the ideas present in this tiny book.

So if you want something that will leave you with some food for thought this summer, The Old Man and the Sea is a wonderfully epigrammatic.

V. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas 7126

Rec. Age group/reading level: 9th grade and up

Length: Very long but very worth it

Rec. Edition: Penguin Classics – the translation is vivid and easy to understand

Components: Adventure, historical fiction, suspense, drama, everything and anything imaginable in a good book, basically!

Destination: Oh my – lots of places! Marseilles, Château d’If (a prison), Monte Cristo (the island), Paris, Rome, and many more!

Compendious, undeniably insufficient description: If you’ve read my ‘review’ postthen you probably already know that I am crazy about this book. It was just, so, so, so good. But I need to keep it short, so here I go:

Edmond Dantès is framed and thrown into jail under the offense of treason. During prison, he vows revenge against his conspirators. He escapes about 20 years later, amasses a huge fortune, and goes about trying to exact the vengeance he promised. The book is very much a story, but also a commentary on human versus divine justice.

VI. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton 1807836

Rec Age Group/Reading Level: 10th grade and up

Length: Medium-long

Rec. Edition: Penguin Classics edition had a nice font size

Components: realistic fiction, historical fiction, grim ending

Location: New York in the 1900’s

Compendious, probably insufficient description: This book tells the story of Lily Bart, a middle-class girl with elite-class tastes and a character  almost strong enough to break the binds of societal pressures in 20th century New York. As Lily grows older, she realizes that, to maintain her current lifestyle, she must marry soon. But as she observes the society into which she would marry, she realizes that there is nothing there she desires except for the monetary safety. Her married friends have no real happiness – they are cardboard cut-outs, completely lacking in character. Though the book ends in a rather dismal way, I enjoyed the beautiful prose and haunting descriptions. Light, sound, and setting play crucial roles in this book that fearlessly jabs at society in the Gilded Age. Another interesting thing to keep in mind while reading this book is names. Lily’s name stems from the idea of a ‘gilded lily’ and plays well with the idea of a gilded age.

VII. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brönte 348914

Rec Age Group/Reading Level: 10th grade and up

Length: Long

Rec. Edition: Doesn’t really matter

Components: realistic fiction, historical fiction, grim in general

Location: The desolate Yorkshire moors

Compendious, probably insufficient description: I’ll be honest and tell you right of the bat that I personally did not adore this book. It was good, but I don’t fondly reminisce about it very often.

Wuthering Heights is a complicated book about relationships. I know, that sounds very…junky, but hold on. It’s about relationships, yes, but it’s also about evil and whether evil can be inherited or not. In Christianity, you often hear about the sin being passed down from the father or mother to the child, and this novel explores that. It also unpacks a lot about human nature, emotion, love, hate, anger, lots of things. It’s a truly dramatic novel set in a truly dramatic, bleak location.

VIII. Beowulf – anonymous 52357

Rec Age Group/Reading Level: 6th grade and up

Length: Medium

Rec. Edition: Matters very much – read this edition:

Components: adventure, bravery, dramatic fighting scenes

Location: Bogs, swamps, mead halls

Compendious, probably insufficient description: Beowulf is that classic ancient story. It’s full of dramatic sword fights, valiance, and stars one of the most traditional heroes possible. Beowulf is a young warrior who defeats many a foe. This book, which was written some time around the 8th-11th century, is a classic tales with 2-3 encounters with the enemy, victory, crowns, kings, queens, princes, princesses, swords, spears, swamps, monsters, and a moving death.

I’ve read Beowulf twice – once with the Seamus Heaney edition and once without. The Seamus Heaney one was much, much, much better. It’s more clear and easy to understand than your average Barnes and Nobel edition.

Also, I wrote my own parody, if you will, on Beowulf. If anyone wants to read it, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to my next blog.

IX. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – anonymous 23613

Rec Age Group/Reading Level: 9th grade and up

Length: Short

Rec. Edition: Matters very much – read this edition:

Components: adventure, virtue, dramatic fighting scenes

Location: Castles,  forests, meadows

Compendious, probably insufficient description:
An epic that is sometimes compared the works of Chaucer, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a tale of virtue and it very plainly depicts human nature in its tenancy to make mistakes. It’s been a very long time since I’ve read this poem, but I know loved it.

X.. Bloomability by Sharon Creech742272

Rec Age Group/Reading Level: 6th grade and up

Length: Short

Rec. Edition: Doesn’t really matter but I recommend the audio book

Components: realistic fiction, adventure

Location: The mountains and valleys of Switzerland

Compendious, probably insufficient description:
I listen to Bloomability on audio when I’m sick, bored, or stressed out. It is definitely one of my absolute favorites – mostly because of the setting. The book takes place in a mountain town in Switzerland at an international school. The main character, Dinnie, is swept away from home by her aunt and uncle who run the school for a year while her family adjusts to life drama. I feel like I make this book sound terrible, but trust me, it’s amazing.


 

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